He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command. – Niccolò Machiavelli
What does that mean?
This one got a chuckle out of me, as I have been on both sides of this quote. If you are expecting someone to be a leader, and they don’t know how to lead, it’s really hard to follow them. Not because of any lack of respect (although that comes soon enough, and complicates things), but because there isn’t any lead to follow.
Similarly, if you are in a position of leadership, but don’t know how to lead, your people will have trouble following your (lack of) lead. Discipline, camaraderie, and common experiences help, but you still need to know how to give a command. You know General MacArthur didn’t ask the Marines to “storm the beach, pretty please,” right?
Why is leadership important?
Leadership isn’t just barking orders. I imagine you’ve worked for a jerk like that at some point in your life, and that’s not leadership, is it? I don’t think so. Neither is asking people if they’d please do something for you (you’ve probably known one of those as well).
Like most things in life, there is a middle path between these extremes. For every leader, and for every group of people being led, that path will be different. Same goes for levels discipline, team building and all the other things that go on in an effort to build a team and establish a leader.
Leadership can break down when there is a lack of trust between the leader and the people. It can also break down when erratic, contradictory, or nonsensical commands are given. A lack of clear goal or path to it can also degrade the ability to lead.
Where can I apply this in my life?
This is my problem with dancing. In order to lead, you need to know what you’re doing, and how to communicate that information to your partner. My wife is an excellent dancer, however I have not cultivated that talent. Something about being a near-terminal introvert or something.
The lessons lead to mostly frustration for both of us. She was used to being around people who were competent dancers and grew frustrated at my lack of understanding of even the basic moves. I grew frustrated when my attempts to lead didn’t work out well, as she was expecting a clearer signal and a little more lead time. I didn’t know how to command, so she couldn’t obey. So much fun – not!
Where in your life are you a leader, even if it’s not the top-of-the-chain person? Even if it’s just you and your dog, hopefully you’re the leader at home, right? Even if you household is busier than that, most people in a family have some aspect where they take the lead, even if it’s loading the dishwasher or mowing the grass, right?
When a kid is mowing the lawn, they are in charge, right? It’s a safety issue. How they interact with the family will impact how they say it, but you can’t have someone laying on a blanket on the grass getting a tan if you’re going to cut the grass, it’s just too dangerous.
How do you assert your leadership? Do you yell at them, do you use logic, or do you inform them of what they must do and go to a parent for back-up if they refuse? There are no right or wrong answers, but it’s something a leader should think about and be prepared for, right? What would you do?
If you have found that you are a leader in some aspect of your life (as most of us will have), how do you give commands? Again, there are no right or wrong answers, and the answer will depend on your style as well as your relationship with those you lead. But it is something I believe is worthy of some thought.
If you think you need some help with leadership, there are plenty of books in the library and online that can be of some use. There are books to help the timid, there are books on styles (the leadership secrets of [famous person]), and source matter books (for those who are unsure on the subject matter in which they find themselves leading).
There are also social organizations which can help you with leadership qualities, and my favorite, mentors. Find someone who’s already a leader in the field and ask for help. Some can be jerks, but most remember being in your place, and are willing to help a little. It will still be up to you to learn and do the work.
Leadership. It’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. But if it’s for you, you’re going to need to learn a lot. Get busy!
From: Twitter, @Roj44
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/niccolomac144982.html
Photo by Marion Doss